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This Day In Florida History  --  March  


1861 Construction of the first cross-peninsula railroad from Fernandina to Cedar Key was completed today. David Levy Yulee, United States Senator from Florida, was the driving force behind this railroad. Although used very little because of the outbreak of the War between the States in April, the railroad made Cedar Key a major urban site in the immediate postwar years.

1864 The U.S.S. Roebuck seized the blockade-running British steamer Lauretta off the Indian River Inlet today. The Lauretta was carrying a cargo of salt.

1901 W. V. Knott assumed the of Treasurer of the State of Florida today.

1920 The Independent Life and Accident Insurance Company was chartered today. The home offices of the firm were located in Jacksonville.

1934 Primo Canera beat Tommy Loughran in a heavyweight title bout in Miami.


1840 The Presbyterian Congregation of Jacksonville was established today.

1841 Company K of the 2nd United States Infantry, under the command of Lieutenant William Alburtis, today fought two engagements with the Seminoles at Orange Creek bridge, near Fort Brooke. The American casualties were 3 enlisted men killed, 1 enlisted man missing and presumed killed, and 6 enlisted men wounded. The Seminole force number between 70 and 100, while the American force consisted of only about 20 men.

1861 John B. Galbraith assumed the office of Florida Attorney General today.

1863 Forces from the Federal gunboat Sagamore attempted to capture the Confederate blockade runner Florence Nightingale as it was loading a cargo of cotton in Mosquito Inlet near New Smyrna. The Sagamore shelled the area from its position at sea and then sent men on barges to capture the ship. The captain of the Nightingale set fire to the ship to prevent its capture. Confederate forces on land repelled the Federal boarding crews. The fire on the blockade runner were then extinguished, and the Nightingale successfully put to sea despite having lost its main mast and most of its provisions.

1864 Confederate General Pierre Beauregard arrived at Camp Milton on McGirt's Creek. He is seeking to organize three infantry brigades under General J. J. Finegan and Alfred H. Colquitt, a cavalry brigade under Colonel Robert H. Anderson, and an artillery brigade under Lieutenant Colonel Charles Colquitt Jones.

1865 In an effort to avoid capture by the U.S.S. Fox, the crew of the blockade runner Rob Rey ran her ashore and set fire to her in Deadman's Bay. The cargo removed from the blazing ship by the crew of the Fox consisted of cavalry sabers and farm implements.

1900 The first organizational meeting of the Florida Audubon Society was held today in Maitland. The Society's immediate purpose was to stop the slaughter of the hundreds of thousands of Florida's plume birds for the sole purpose of providing decorations to the latest hats worn by women.

1936 Halsted L. Ritter of Miami, Judge of the U. S. Court for the Southern District of Florida, was impeached today. He was accused of a variety of judicial improprieties. He was convicted by a vote of 56-28 in the United States Senate on the charge of bringing the court into disrepute. He was found innocent of six additional charges.

1959 Today was the final day Florida orange growers were allowed to used a coal-tar-based orange dye to enhance the appearance of Florida oranges. Traditionally, citrus growers had immersed oranges in vats of this dye to make them uniformly bright orange.

1972 The United States today launched the Pioneer 10 spacecraft on its voyage to the planet Jupiter. The Pioneer 10 will come with 100,000 miles of the planet for four days before traveling to the edge of the solar system. The Pioneer 10 carries a record containing greetings from Earth and information about our planet directed toward any extraterrestrial beings that might intercept it in space.

1991 Disney World unveiled the world's largest cylindrical sundial today in ceremonies in Orlando.


1783 British refugees from the newly established United States of America and British military officers in St. Augustine were treated to benefit performances of "The Beau Strategem" and "Miss in Her Teens" by the local theatrical groups. British officers were awaiting the final transfer of military and civil authority to the Spanish.

1821 East and West Florida are unified under the control of General Andrew Jackson today.

1836 Surrounded by Seminole warriors at camp Izard and unable to be re-supplied, General Edmund P. Gaines orders his men to kill their horses and mules for food.

1841 The United States Congress appropriated $1,061,816 for the prosecution of the Second Seminole War and ordered a vigorous prosecution of hostilities.

1845 Florida was admitted into the United States as the twenty-seventh state today. President John Tyler signed the act of admission.

1862 United States naval forces, under the command of Flag Officer Samuel DuPont, today reported that they had control of Cumberland Island and Sound, Fernandina and Amelia Island, and the river and town of St. Mary's." Fort Clinch on Amelia Island was occupied by forces from the U.S.S. Ottawa and became the first Confederate fort to be re-taken by Union forces. The Federal navy also captured the Confederate steamer Darlington with a cargo of military supplies. Confederate forces retreated inland, carrying their heavy guns.

1865 The U.S.S. Honeysuckle captured the blockade runner Phantom as she attempted to enter the Suwannee River. The Phantom was carrying a cargo of liquors and bar iron.

1865 A Federal naval squadron of twelve steamers and four sloops, commanded by Commander R. W. Shufeldt, today joined Federal army troops commanded by Brigadier General John Newton in an assault on St. Marks Fort below Tallahassee. Although the attack on the fort was unsuccessful, Federal ship succeeded in blockading the mouth of the St. Mark's River. Confederate officials anticipate that this is the opening gambit in a campaign to capture Tallahassee.

1905 The Tallahassee "Democrat" was founded today.

1926 The International Greyhound Racing Association was formed today in Miami. The purpose of the Association was to establish standards for the sport.

1969 At Cape Canaveral, NASA launches Apollo 9 in its first test of the lunar module.


1823 Richard Keith Call assumed the position of Florida Territorial Representative in the United States House of Representatives today.

1824 On this date, Tallahassee officially became the capital of Florida. Governor William Pope Duval, the first Territorial Governor, issued the proclamation.

1841 Company D of the 2nd United States Infantry, under the command of Captain E. K. Barnum, engaged in battle with a group of Seminoles today on the Oklawaha River. Two American enlisted men were wounded. Seminole casualties were unknown.

1857 Units of the United State 4th Artillery and 5th Infantry were attacked today by Seminoles near Big Cypress Swamp. The American casualties were 12 enlisted men killed, six enlisted men wounded, and one officer, a Lieutenant Freeman, wounded. Seminole casualties were not determined.

1861 Floridian Stephen R. Mallory is confirmed by the Confederate Congress as the Secretary of the Navy. Tow of Florida's Representatives, Jackson Morton and James B. Owens, vehemently oppose his confirmation.

1862 The Federal ship, U.S.S. Santiago de Cuba captured the sloop, O.K., of the coast near Cedar Keys today. While being taken to St. Mark's, the O.K. floundered.

1863 The U.S.S. James S. Chambers seized the blockade-running Spanish sloop Relampago and schooner Ida today. The Ida, beached at Sanibel island, could not escape and was destroyed by a crew from the Chambers.

1865 The Federal flotilla recently assembled and which assaulted St. Mark's yesterday landed 1,000 Union troops near St. Mark's lighthouse. The troops prepared to move inland. In Tallahassee, Confederate authorities were hastily assembling whatever forces they can muster to stave off the anticipated attack on the capital city.

1871 Josiah T. Walls, a Virginia-born African-American, was sworn into office today to begin his five-year tenure as a member of the United States House of representatives from Florida.

1886 S. W. Prichard of Haines City was elected the first president of the Florida State Teachers's Association at its meeting in DeFuniak Springs. The FSTA was later re-named the Florida Education Association.

1929 Ruth Bryan Owne began the first of her two terms in the United States House of Representatives from Florida's Fourth Congressional District.

1972 Although the Florida House of Representatives approved the Equal Rights Amendment by a vote of 84-3, it was not considered in the Florida Senate.


1823 Four companies of United States troops from Pensacola landed in Tampa Bay today to establish Fort Brooke. The City of Tampa grew up around this fort.

1856 Collection and exchange operations at Florida's oldest bank--the Lewis State Bank--were started today in Tallahassee. The bank was formed by Tallahassee resident B. C. Lewis.

1862 The U.S.S. water Witch today captured the schooner William Malley off St. Andrew's Bay.

1864 Confederate cavalry hero Captain J. J. Dickinson is today ordered to proceed with his men to Palatka and to place himself under the command of the commanding officer of the 4th Florida Cavalry Regiment.

1865 Federal forces have occupied the left bank of the St. Mark's River as far inland as Newport. Federal commander General John Newton is expected to move his forces toward Natural Bridge. Federal success here will mean that Tallahassee will fall. Confederate forces are moving to prevent the successful passage of the Union force.

1889 The Pensacola "News," the forerunner of the Pensacola "News-Journal," was founded today.

1966 The Dallas Cowboys' receiver Michael Irvin was born today in Fort Lauderdale.


1836 As Osceola and a band of his followers were negotiating with General Edmund P. Gaines at Fort Izard, General Duncan Clinch approached with troops and unaware that a parley was going on, fired on the Seminoles, dispersing their numbers.

1837 Peace treaty signed by Jumper, Holalatoochee (Davy), Yaholoochee (Cloud), Hoeth-lee-mat-tee and John Ca-wy-ya, Seminole chieftains, at Fort Drane. Terms specified that all hostilities would cease immediately and that the followers of these individuals would be send to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Within a few days, some 700 Seminoles were gathered near Fort Brooke (Tampa) in preparation for departure.

1861 The Palatka Guards, a volunteer detachment of about 300 men, leaves for Fernandina as ordered by Governor Madison Starke Perry.

1861 Braxton E. Bragg, a Mississippi planter, West Point graduate, and Mexican War Veteran, is named to command the Confederate forces in Pensacola. He is a Brigadier general.

1862 The U.S.S. Pursuit today captured the schooner Anna Belle off Apalachicola.

1865 The Federal attempt to capture Tallahassee was thwarted today by a motley collection of Confederate troops, soldiers on leave or recuperating from medical problems, and cadets from the West Florida Seminary (now Florida State University), at Natural Bridge, about twenty miles south of the city. Despite a considerable numerical advantage, the Federal troops could not overcome the Confederates' use of natural defenses to reach the city. Following the failure of this Union attempt, Federal troops withdrew to St. Marks. Tallahassee remained the only Confederate capital east of the Mississippi to escape capture and occupation by Union forces during the Civil War.

Two Federal efforts to cross natural Bridge were repelled this morning. When Confederate reinforcement arrived, Union commander ordered their troops to retreat to the safety of the naval vessels at anchor near St. Mark's lighthouse. Federal loses in the Battle of natural Bridge are put at 21 killed, 89 wounded, and 38 missing. Confederate authorities report 3 killed, 22 wounded, and none missing.

(For more information on the Battle of Natural Bridge, see the Winter 1999 issue of "The Florida Historical Quarterly."

1933 Chicago mayor Anton Cermak died of wounds inflicted when an assassin attempted to kill President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on February 15 in Miami.

1947 Dick Pope, Jr., became the first known person to water ski barefoot on Lake Eloise at Cypress Gardens.


1935 Sir Malcolm Campbell set a world speed record of 276 mph today on the sand at Daytona Beach. Campbell's car, the "Bluebird," produced 2,500 horsepower and cost an estimated $200,000. More than 50,000 spectators watched as Campbell established the record.

1862 The mayor of Jacksonville today issued a proclamation urging citizens of that city to stay in their homes and to pursue their normal vocations in the face of an anticipated Federal assault on the city. Confederate authorities have informed the mayor that they will make no effort to defend Jacksonville.

1865 The Federal flotilla at anchor off St. Mark's lighthouse today weighed anchor and sailed away. The Union attempt to seize Tallahassee was an abject failure. The expedition lost a total of 148 men killed, wounded or missing.

1982 The Salvador Dali Museum opened in St. Petersburg today.


1861 The "Charleston Mercury" reports that Confederate Representatives in Congress James B. Owens and Jackson Morton continue their attack on Florida Stephen Mallory, the new Confederate Secretary of the Navy, for being a self-seeker and of having shown "bad faith toward Florida, his native state." Mallory is still officially a member of the United States Senate, a position that he will continue to occupy until the Senate officially accepts his resignation, which it does on March 11.

1862 This afternoon a Federal force of several ships and a transport with the 4th New Hampshire Infantry aboard left Fernandina for the St. Johns River. They are bing joined by forces from Port Royal, South carolina, under the command of Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

1862 The U.S.S. Sagamore today captured the sloop Enterprise, which had left the Mosquito Inlet for Nassau with a cargo of cotton.

1864 Union General Truman Seymour asks for artillery reinforcements for Jacksonville to ensure that the city will not be taken. He reports that Confederate forces have moved to King's Road and are also in the Six-Mile/cedar Creek area.

1865 Union forces left Jacksonville yesterday for an expedition into Marion County. Their progress westward continues today and has largely been unimpeded by Florida Confederate troops.

1894 First annual camp meeting held in Tampa by the Seventh Day Adventist.


1836 General Duncan Clinch takes command of U.S. troops in Florida from General Edmund P. Gaines. Gaines then proceeds to Tallahassee and to the western frontier from that city.

1844 Miami is designated by the Florida Legislature as the seat of Dade County.

1861 Governor Madison Starke Perry receives the first Confederate requisition of Florida troops from Secretary of the Army L. Pope Walker.

1922 Florida State Board of Health concludes a rat "proofing" campaigning in Pensacola that confined an outbreak of bubonic plague to that city.

1936 Sidney Johnston Catts, 22nd governor of Florida (1917-1921) died today at his home in DeFuniak Springs. [For more information, see entries for July 31 and January 2]

1955 Ballet dancer and choreographer Bujones Fernando was born today in Miami.

1966 The Florida Legislature approved a plan for reapportionment of the Legislature with a 117-member House of representatives and a 48-member Senate. The plan was rejected by the United States Supreme Court after the November 1966 state elections.

1986 U.S. Navy divers find the crew compartment of the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle, which exploded immediately after take-off on January 28, 1986. The compartment contains the remains of the dead astronauts.

1999 Joe DiMaggio, the famous "Yankee Clipper," died today at his home in Hollywood, Florida. DiMaggio, whose 56 game hitting streak in 1941 is a major league record, played thirteen years for the New York Yankees. He was a three-time MVP of the American League and played in 9 World Series. Of these, the Yankees won seven. DiMaggio's career was cut short somewhat by a three-year stint in the military during World War II. He was "the most complete baseball player that ever played the game," according to former Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodger Tommy LaSorda.


1836 As General Duncan Clinch leads U. S. Troops to Fort Drane, his column comes under sustained attacks by Seminole warriors today and tomorrow.

1845 Levy County, Florida's 26th county, was created today by the Florida legislature. The county is named in honor of David Levy Yulee, prominent politician, statesman, and railroad entrepreneur. Levy owned a 5,000 acre plantation on the Homosassa River, where he grew sugar cane and produced sugar. Levy was the first United States Senator to represent the new state of Florida. County Seat: Bronson

1862 Federal naval forces under Lieutenant T. H. Stevens temporarily occupied Jacksonville today.

1862 St. Augustine has been evacuated by two companies of Confederate troops that had been stationed there. A Federal invasion is considered likely to happen within the next twenty-four hours.

1863 A Federal force, made up primarily of African-American troops, reoccupied Jacksonville today. It was opposed unsuccessfully by the Florida 2nd Cavalry and the Florida 2nd Infantry Battalion, which retreated in the face of a bombardment from Federal gunboats.

1863 The U.S.S. Gem of the Sea today captured the sloop Petee, which was attempting to run the blockade at Indian River Inlet with a cargo of salt.

1864 Union forces occupied Palatka this morning without opposition. Although they did not oppose the occupation of the city, Confederate forces are reported on the outskirts of the town. Federal forces are concerned about the location of small river steamers used to transport troops and supplies along the St. Johns River.

1909 LeRoy Collins, the 33rd governor of Florida (1955-1961), is born today in Tallahassee. [For more information, see entry for January 4.]

1984 The streets of Miami erupted in riots today when the news came that a Hispanic policeman had been acquitted in the slaying of an African-American.


1843 Wakulla County, Florida's 23rd county, was created today by the Florida Territorial Legislature. The county takes its name from the famous Wakulla Springs, which are nearby. The exact meaning of the word "Wakulla" is unknown, although it is thought to be of Timucuan origin and probably refers to "springs of water." County Seat: Crawfordville

1861 General Braxton E. Bragg arrives in Pensacola and relieves Major General William H. Chase of his command of all Confederate troops in or near the city.

1862 The U.S.S. Wabash landed today in St. Augustine. The ship's commander, C. R. P. Rodgers, negotiates with city leaders and occupies Fort Marion and the city. There was no opposition.

1862 Two Confederate gunboats under construction in Pensacola Bay have been burned to prevent their capture by Federal naval forces.

1863 Confederate forces attacked Union positions in Jacksonville today and forced the Federal soldiers to retreat to their gunboats. Confederate forces penetrated the city as far as the Judson House Square before retreating. Confederate losses are placed at one man, lost or killed.

1864 Federal naval forces report a great deal of activity today and the capture of several blockade runner. The U.S.S. San Jacinto reported the capture of a schooner with a cargo of turpentine and 132 bales of cotton in the Gulf of Mexico, while the U.S.S. Beauregard reported the capture of the British sloop Hannah off the coast of Mosquito Inlet. The commander of the Beauregard, acting in concert with the Federal schooner, Norfolk Packet, pursued the British schooner, Linda, up the Indian River Inlet. Although Union forces were forced to take to the shore when they boat was grounded, the Linda, lowered its sails and surrendered after shots were fired. The British vessel was destined for new Smyrna with a cargo of salt, liquors, coffee, and dry goods.

1869 Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was imprisoned in Fort Jefferson in Florida's Dry Tortugas, was released today after being pardoned by President Andrew Johnson. Mudd had been convicted of being part of the conspiracy to kill Federal President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Mudd set the broken leg of actor John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Lincoln. There were serious doubts about his participation in the conspiracy in 1865 and practically no one today believes that Mudd was in any way connected to the conspiracy. Dr. Mudd was a distant relative of noted television correspondent, Roger Mudd.

1870 The Catholic diocese of St. Augustine was formally established today. The Very Reverend Jean-Pierre Augustin Marcellin Verot was installed as the first bishop.

1873 St. Luke's Hospital, the oldest continuously operating hospital in Florida, opened today in Jacksonville with two rooms and four beds.

1882 The City of DeLand is incorporated today.

1921 The Florida Branch of the national Congress of Mothers and Parent-Teacher Association met today in Jacksonville. Mrs. Arthur G. Cummer was elected president.

1929 Major Seagraves established a new automobile speed record today at Daytona Beach. He reached an average speed of 223.2 miles-per-hour in a 450 horse powered Golden Arrow.


1812 The Territory of East Florida was declared to be in existence today on Amelia Island.

1849 Colonel Robert E. Lee completed and filed the "Report of the Board of Engineers Upon Their Examination of the West and East Coast of Florida, from Pensacola Harbor to Amelia Island" with the Chief of Engineers, United States Army. The "Report" made recommendations for the establishment of military reservations along the coast. Lee, who was the Recorder for the Board, filed his final report on March 14, 1849.

1863 According to Confederate pickets outside Jacksonville, Federal forces occupying the city were reinforced by the arrival of two Union gunboats today.

1968 In Miami, gunmen hijack a National Airlines DC-8 and force the crew to fly it to Havana.


1863 The U.S.S. Huntsville today seized the British blockade runner Surprise off the mouth of Charlotte Harbor. The Surprise was bound for Havana with a cargo of cotton.

1864 The U.S.S. Columbine, operating in support of Union troops moving up the St. Johns River, today captured the Confederate steamer General Sumter on Lake George. The Sumter was carrying passengers to the Oklawaha.

1864 Union forces report a combined Confederate force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery is moving about six miles inland from the town of Palatka.

1974 Death penalty advocates in Florida joined other advocates around the United States as the U.S. Senate prepared to vote today on the restoration of the death penalty. When the vote came, it was 54-33 in favor of restoration.

1992 Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker were divorced in Tallahassee today following Jim's conviction and imprisonment for defrauding contributors to his "Praise the Lord" television ministry.

1993 Twenty-six persons were killed today in a storm that covered the whole East Coast of Florida.


1844 Marion County, Florida's 24th county, was created today by the Florida Territorial Legislature. The name of the county honors Revolutionary War hero, General Francis Marion, known as the "Swamp Fox." Many of the county's earliest settlers came from South Carolina. County Seat: Ocala

1844 Brevard County, Florida's 25th county, was created today by the Florida Territorial Legislature. The county is most probably named for Theodore Washington Brevard, a Florida politician who served from 1853-1861 as the State Comptroller. The county was originally named St. Lucie County, but the name was changed to Brevard County on January 6, 1855. St. Lucie County was restored to the map in 1905, when another county was created and given that name. County Seat: Titusville

1903 Pelican island National Wildlife refuge, located in the Indian River Lagoon, became the first national refuge today. President Theodore Roosevelt authorized the creation of the refuge following a visit to the area. Rodney Kreigel became the first game warden for the refuge.

1950 Disk jockey and talk-show host Rick Dees was born today in Jacksonville.

1961 Floyd Patterson knocked out Ingemar Johansson in the sixth round of a heavyweight championship match in Miami Beach.


1831 Edward Aylsworth Perry, the 14th governor of Florida (1885-1889), was born today in Richmond, Massachusetts. Perry attended Yale, taught school briefly in Alabama, and took up residence in Pensacola, where he practiced law. Joining the Confederate Armyas a private, he rose to the rank of Brigadier General. His administration as governor was marked by the adoption of a new State Constitution and by the creation of the State Board of Education to advance public schools. After his tenure as governor, Perry returned to Pensacola where he died on October 15, 1889.

1840 Seminole warriors attacked a unit of the 7th United States Infantry near Fort Drane today. The unit, commanded by Lieutenant W. K. Hanson, suffered one enlisted man wounded. No record exists of Seminole casualties.

1863 Confederate intelligence reports indicate the presence of three Federal regiments in Jacksonville, two made up of white soldiers and one of Negroes. These reports also indicate the presence of four to five gunboats with 25-30 heavy guns. These guns are capable of providing artillery fire for the Federal land forces throughout the city.

1864 Confederate Major General Patton Anderson, the Confederate commander in Florida, today issued Special Order 8, which calls for the impressment of 700 slaves for the purpose of constructing defenses against the Federal forces now occupying Jacksonville.

1911 William Dunnington Bloxham, the 13th (1881-1885) and 17th (1897-1901) governor of Florida (1881-1885), died today in Tallahassee. Bloxham was born in Leon County in 1835. Although he graduated with a law degree from William and Mary College, he was a planter. During the Civil War, he commanded an infantry company. [For more information see the entry for January 5]

1960 The Key Largo Coral Reef Preserve was established today.


1836 General Richard Keith Call is nominated as the Third Territorial Governor of Florida by President Andrew Jackson.

1862 The U.S.S. Oswasco captured two Confederate schooners in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. The Eugenia and the President were carrying cargoes of cotton. In Richmond, the Confederate Congress passed a resolution urging that no cotton be planted in the Confederacy this year. The purpose of this resolution is to put pressure of British textile manufacturers to force the British government to officially recognize the Confederacy.

1863 The U.S.S. Octorara today reported the capture of two blockade runners, the Rosalie and the Five Brothers off the east coast of Florida.

1864 The 48th New York Volunteer Infantry, part of the Federal force occupying Palatka, was attacked today by a small force of Confederate cavalry. Two federal soldiers were captured.

1865 The U.S.S. Pursuit captured the British schooner Mary today as the British ship attempted to run the blockade at Indian River.

1910 Barney Oldfield established a new land speed record of 131.7 miles-per-hour at Daytona Beach today.

1952 The first 12-hour endurance race at Sebring was won today at 1:00 a.m. by Larry Kulok and Harry Gray. The two men won by piloting a Frazier-Nash built and owned by Duke Donaldson for 145 laps.

1981 The American public was informed by news media sources that the United State government had established training facilities for members of the Nicaraguan "Contra" organization in the Everglades near Miami.



1812 Fernandina was surrendered today by Spanish soldiers to General John H. McIntosh's "patriots" of the Republic of Florida, who were accompanied by an American naval squadron and United States Army troops.

1828 Charles Louis Napoleon Achille Murat was admitted to the practice of law today in Tallahassee. Murat, the Crown Prince of Naples, was a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, the deposed Emperor of France.

1864 Federal forces occupying Palatka continue to experience probes by Confederate cavalry units as they anxiously await the arrival of the Union gunboat, Ottawa, whose weapons will provide protection for the land forces.

1946 Jackie Robinson, newly acquired by the Brooklyn Dodgers, played his first exhibition game with the major league team today in Daytona Beach.

1958 Vanguard I, the first rocket in the Vanguard series, achieved orbit today with a 3.5 pound satellite aboard. The rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral.

1969 Today marked the end of a streak of 768 consecutive days of sunshine in Florida.


1854 William Pope DuVal, the first Territorial governor of Florida (1822-1834), died today in Washington, D.C. DuVal was born in Virginia in 1784. His father was an associate of Patrick Henry and was active in the Revolutionary War. William Pope DuVal migrated to Bardstown, Kentucky, when he was only 14 years of age. There he studied law and was admitted to the bar when he was 19. He served as a captain of the mounted rangers in the War of 1812. He served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1813 until 1815. In 1815, President James Monroe appointed him to the position of Territorial Judge. In 1822, President Monroe appointed him Territorial governor. Presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson reappointed him. Duval County is named in his honor.

1874 Marcellus Lovejoy Stearns, who was only 34 years of age, assumed the office of Governor of Florida (acting) today following the death of Governor Ossian Bingley Hart. Stearns became the 11th governor (1874-1877) of the state. He was born in Lovell, Maine, and came to Florida as a member of the Freedman's Bureau after having lost an arm while on duty with the Union Army. Stationed in Quincy (the Panhandle), Stearns remained in Gadsden County following his release from military service. He served in the 1868 Constitutional Convention as Gadsden County's representative in Florida's lower house from 1868 until 1872. From 1869 until 1872, he was Speaker. In 1869, he was appointed by President U. S. Grant to the position of United States Surveyor-General of Florida, a position he held until 1873. Elected Lieutenant Governor in 1872, he succeeded to the chief executive's chair on the death of Hat. Stearns was defeated when he sought a regular term as governor in 1876. In 1877, he was appointed a United States Commissioner at Hot Springs, Arkansas. He held that position until 1880. Stearns died on December 8, 1891, and is buried at Lovell, Maine.

1874 Ossian Bingley Hart, the 10th governor of Florida (1873-1874), died of pneumonia today in Jacksonville. Hart, a Republican, was an attorney who had opposed secession. [For more information, see the entry for January 7]

1925 Fire destroyed the famous Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach today. At the time of the fire, the Breakers was thought to be the largest wooden structure in the world.

1963 The United States Supreme Court significantly altered American jurisprudence today when it ruled on the case of Clarence Earl Gideon, a resident of Panama City, who was imprisoned at the Florida State Prison. Gideon sued for release on the grounds that he had not been provided with the services of an attorney. The Supreme Court agreed with his contention that such legal representation should be furnished any indigent defendant. Gideon was released and retried. With the help of a court-appointed lawyer, he was acquitted in the second trial.


1823 United States Secretary of War John C. Calhoun ordered the creation of a road between St. Augustine and St. Mary's. Calhoun also ordered a survey for a road between St. Augustine and Pensacola.

1843 Tallahassee residents participated in a Presbyterian-led revival that lasted for tow weeks. Many older church members pledged themselves to renew their memberships while scores of new members were recruited. This was part of the nationwide revival movement.

1862 General J. H. Trapier was relieved of command of the Confederate Department of Florida today. He was replaced temporarily by Colonel W. S. Dilworth. Trapier was ordered to report for duty on the staff of General Albert Sydney Johnston.

1865 Florida troops are fighting under the command of General Joseph E. Johnston at Bentonville, North Carolina, in an effort to prevent Federal General William T. Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant from linking their armies together. Florida units include the 3rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Regiment, 6th Infantry Regiment, and the 7th Infantry Regiment.

1883 United States Army General Joseph Warren "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell was born today in Palatka.

1981 One technician was killed and two were injured on tests on the space shuttle Columbia at cape Canaveral today.

1982 Guitarist Randy Rhoads was killed in an airplane crash at Orlando today.


1565 Pedro Menendez de Aviles was named Adelantado, Governor and Captain-General of Florida, today by the King of Spain.

1839 Captain McKay of Company E, 2nd United States Infantry, was wounded in a clash with Seminole warrior today near Etonia Scrub. McKay eventually died of his wound.

1863 Confederate and Federal forces clashed today in a minor skirmish at St. Andrew's Bay.

1864 The U.S.S. Tioga captured the Confederate sloop Swallow off Florida's east coast today. The sloop had a cargo of cotton, rosin, and tobacco and was bound for Nassau. Twelve Confederates were captured.

1872 The section of railroad between Quincy and River Junction (Chattahoochee) was completed today as part of the Jacksonville, Pensacola, and Mobile Railroad.

1895 The City of Newberry was incorporated today.

1914 The Jacksonville chapter of the American Red Cross, the first such chapter in the state, was organized today.

1933 Guiseppe Zangara, the assassin of Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, was executed today. [For more information, see entry for February 15]

1964 Two Cuban hi-jackers land at commandeered Cuban military helicopter at Key West today and ask for political asylum.


1949 WTVJ-TV, Miami's first television station, aired its first broadcast today.

1953 Robert Johnson, the drummer with "KC and the Sunshine Band," was born today in Miami.

1953 Governor David Scholtz, the 26th governor of Florida (1933-1937) died today in the Florida Keys. [See entry for October 6 for more information.]

1965 NASA launched Ranger 9 today from Cape "Kennedy." This is the last of the ranger series of lunar exploration space probes.

1972 An USAF B-52, with seven crew people on board, crashed into a residential section of Orlando today.


1851 The Constitution of the Southern Rights Association of Centreville District, and outgrowth of the secessionist movement inherent in the Crisis of 1850-51, was published in Tallahassee today.

1862 Two Federal gunboats, the Penquin and the Henry Andrew, operating in the area around New Smyrna, today attacked Confederate salt works near Mosquito Inlet.

1865 Theodore W. Brevard, in command of the 11th Florida Infantry and Bonaud's Battalion, was commissioned a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army. Brevard was a prominent Florida politician who had served as the Comptroller of the State from 1855-1860. He also served from April 3, 1854 until November 27, 1854 in the same position.

1889 Dr. Joseph Y. Porter of Key West was worn in today as the first Florida State Health Officer.

1931 A fire destroyed some nineteen houses and the St. Andrews Bay Lumber Company today. The damage was estimated a nearly $100,000.

1941 Pan American Airways and the University of Miami began teaching a navigation course today. The course, sponsored by the United States Army, included ten British pilots. This course would eventually be taught to more than 1200 British students during World War II. Civilian instructors allowed the United States to assist its ally Great Britain while maintaining the facade of neutrality.

1982 The space shuttle Columbia was launched on its third flight today from Cape Canaveral.

1993 Cleveland Indians pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews were killed when their boat crashed into a pier on Little Lake Nellie near Clermont. Crews, who was driving the boat, was legally drunk.


1862 The federal gunboats Penquin and Henry Andrews attempted to land forces at New Smyrna today. Units of the 3rd Florida Infantry refused to allow them to land. The commanders of the two ships were killed, along with three enlisted men. The Confederate forces suffered no losses.

1862 A landing party from the Federal ship, the U.S.S. Mercedita, went ashore at Apalachicola today. They discovered that the town had been abandoned by Confederate forces.

1863 The Federal ship U.S.S. Arizona captured the Confederate sloop Aurelia off Mosquito Inlet today. The Confederate ship had a cargo of 60 bales of cotton and was bound for Nassau.

1927 Mamie Eaton Greene of Monticello was appointed to the Florida Railroad Commission today by Governor John W. Martin. Mrs. Greene replaced her husband, R. L. "Bob" Eaton, who had died. Mrs. eaton subsequently remarried.

1964 More than 200 persons were arrested in Jacksonville today as race riots swept through the city. One African-American woman was killed and one white reporter severely beaten. Mayor Hayden Burns refused to call in the National Guard or to instruct his police force to take drastic action to curtail the rioting.

1986 Trevor Berbick defeated Pinkton Thomas for the WBC heavyweight boxing title in Miami.

1991 The town of Manatee held the greatest egg hunt ever staged in the United States today. Forty thousand children hunted more than 120,000 plastic and candy eggs.


1840 Two enlisted men of the 7th United States Infantry were killed today when that unit engaged in battle with Seminole warriors near Fort King. The unit was commanded by Captain G. J. Rains.

1863 William Sherman Jennings, the 18th governor of Florida (1901-1905), was born today near Walnut Hill, Illinois. [For more information, see entry for January 8.]

1883 T.A. Bass was elected the first mayor of Kissimmee today at that city's initial incorporation meeting.

1899 Citizens of Tallahassee rolled out the red carpet for President and Mrs. William McKinley. It was the first presidential visit to Florida's capital city.

1967 More than 30,000 young people began a three-day riot in Fort Lauderdale today. More than 500 would eventually be arrested.


1781 Twenty-three Spanish horses and two scalps were brought to the English fortification in Pensacola by Indian allies of the British during the two-month long Spanish siege of the city.

1822 Naval Officer Matthew C. Perry today raised the American flag over Key West, officially declaring American sovereignty over the Keys.

1861 The Federal ship, U.S.S. General Rusk, arrived in Key West today with a complement of 300 men for service at Fort Jefferson (Dry Tortugas) and in the city.

1862 A party of Confederate guerillas attacked a Federal picket station near Jacksonville this morning. One Union soldier was killed, one severely wounded, three captured, and the remaining two men in the seven man detail managed to escape.

1863 John M. Martin of Florida took his seat today in the Confederate House of Representatives.

1863 The U.S.S. Fort Henry captured the blockade runner Ranger off the coast of Cedar Key today.

1863 Federal soldiers from the Jacksonville garrison advanced to Three Mile Branch today. After destroying a few miles of railroad track and burning several houses, they were forced to retreat to the city when Confederate artillery positions opened fire.

1864 In the face of his disastrous defeat at Olustee, Federal General Truman Seymour received orders to turn his Florida command over to Union Brigadier General J. P. Hatch.

1864 The United States schooner, Stonewall, send a landing party ashore near Sarasota today. Finding nothing suspicious, the men returned to the ship, In the afternoon, the Stonewall anchored near fishhouses on the shore by soon withdrew when nothing suspicious was sighted.

1901 Plans were announced for the integration of two new Clyde Line passenger ships to operate between Jacksonville and New York today. The ships, nearing completion in a Delaware shipyard, are the Apache and the Arapahoe.

1910 The town of Mount Dora, originally settled as Royal View, was incorporated today.

1929 Gar Wood, a renown motor boat builder, established a new world's water speed record of 93.123 miles-per-hour today in the Miami Beach regatta. Wood was driving his boat, Miss America VII.


1863 Floridians, like most Southerners, reacted angrily today when the Confederate Congress approved the Impressment Act, which allowed Confederate tax collectors to impress food and other articles useful to the Confederacy.

1915 The City of Miami Beach was incorporated today. J. N. Lummus was elected the first mayor.

1958 The United States Army launched its third satellite, the Explorer III, from Cape Canaveral today.


* There are 882 islands or "keys" in the Florida Keys which are large enough to be recorded on the maps of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.

* The Indian River Lagoon is the longest lagoon in Florida. It stretches nearly 140 miles. The Indian River Lagoon has no tidal action and is brackish.

* The total recorded length of all streams in the Sunshine State is 10,550 miles.

* The St. Johns River is the longest river in Florida. Its length is recorded variously as 273 miles long (U.S. Geological Survey) to 318 miles long (State Board of Conservation). The reason for this confusion is that the river's headwaters are so ill-defined that it is impossible to determine with any certainty the river's point of origin.

* Florida has 4,510 islands ten acres or larger in size, which is the second highest total in the United States. Only Alaska has more islands.


1513 Juan Ponce de Leon sighted the Florida peninsula today, although he would not go ashore until April 2.

1863 The U.S.S. Hendrick Hudson today seized the British schooner Pacifique at St. mark's.

1901 The Florida State Federation of Labor was organized today in Jacksonville. M. A. Ham of Tampa was elected president. The major topic of the Federation was to press for enactment of legislation limiting working days to eight hours.

1911 The City of Fort Lauderdale was incorporated today.

1960 The United States Navy test-fired its revolutionary Polaris submarine-launched missile off the coast of Cocoa beach today.


* Florida has over 10,000 bridges throughout the state.

* The Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys is the longest precast and prestressed segmental concrete bridge in the world.

* Forty-four bridges connect the Florida Keys to each other and to the mainland.

* Florida has only one vehicular tunnel. It is in Fort Lauderdale and goes under the New River. It is 826 feet long and cost $6,473,000 to construct in 1963. Boats passing over the tunnel have a clearance of 14 feet at mean low water.


1833 The Treaty of Payne's Prairie was confirmed today. Seminoles agreed to the removal of the Seminole people from Florida in the Treaty of Fort Gibson, Arkansas, after their investigation of the new western lands. Removal would take place within three years.

Chief Charley-E-Mather agreed to the removal. Not all Seminole leaders agreed with this, and on their return to Florida announced that they had only agreed that the lands in Arkansas were satisfactory. Arpeika (Sam Jones), Jumper, Black Dirt, and Halpatter-Tustenuggee (Alligator) were opposed.

1893 Edmund Kirby Smith, the last surviving full General of the Confederate Army, died today. Smith, who was born in St. Augustine on May 16, 1824, was an 1845 graduate of West Point, a veteran of the Mexican-American War, a wounded veteran of Indian fighting, and an instructor of mathematics at West Point.

His first task as a Confederate general was to organize the Army of the Shenandoah. He was severely wounded at the first Battle of Bull Run, but went on to serve in Tennessee and Kentucky. He was appointed commander of the Confederate Department of the Trans-Mississippi West. When Vicksburg fell on July 4, 1863, Smith operated independently west of the Mississippi.

He taught mathematics at the University of the South for eighteen years following the Confederate surrender. A statue of Edmund Kirby Smith is one of two representing the Sunshine State in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

1955 Marianna (in the Panhandle) reported one inch of snow today. Tallahassee reported 0.4", while traces were reported as far south as Palatka.

1967 Dennis J. Patrick O'Grady of Inverness, who entered the Florida Senate at age 23 years and 3 months, was elected today. O'Grady is generally regarded as the youngest person ever to serve in that body.


1856 Companies E and G of the 2nd United States Artillery fought an engagement with Seminole warrior today near Chocoliska. The U.S. Army contingent was led by Captain Arnold Elzey. Two enlisted men were killed and one wounded. Seminole casualties were not known.

1862 Federal officers in Jacksonville send five companies of soldiers to investigate a report that a large force of Confederates are in the vicinity of Three Mile Creek. The Union soldiers determined that a force of nearly 100 Confederates had been the area earlier today, but have since left.

1863 Federal army and naval forces evacuated Jacksonville today. As they evacuated, Union soldiers set fire to much of the town.

1891 The Florida State Board of Health published its first report today. The Board lists the establishment of quarantine stations at Tampa and Pensacola as its primary activities.

1927 H. O. Seagrave became the first person to drive a car faster than 200 miles-per-hour today at Daytona Beach.

1953 Tragedy struck Largo today when the Littlefield Nursing Home burned and some thirty-three persons were burned.


1822 The United States Congress established Territorial Superior Courts for Florida. The courts are to be convened at St. Augustine and Pensacola.

1831 The court order requiring windows in each cell of the Leon County jail was rescinded today.

1862 Units of the 97th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment are dispatched to make contact with Confederate forces operating in the vicinity of Jacksonville.

1950 President Dwight D. Eisenhower, while on a visit to south Florida, today denounced Senator Joseph McCarthy as a "saboteur" of American foreign policy. Eisenhower's attack comes just four days after McCarthy had publicly denounced former State Department official Owen Lattimore as a Soviet spy.


1832 The St. Augustine City Council passed an ordinance today authorizing the creation of tax-supported free schools in the city. This is one of the earliest such ordinances in the American South and in the nation.

1856 Seminole warriors attacked the residence and plantation of Dr. Joseph A. Braden on the Manatee River today. Some of the plantation's buildings were burned, several slaves were spirited away, and a supply of blankets was taken.

1862 Federal officers in Jacksonville report the presence of about 2,700 Confederate troops in East Florida.

1959 Busch Gardens, a six acre amusement park, was dedicated today in Tampa. The park has since expanded to more than 300 acres.